AIS as an Aid to Navigation (AtoN)
AIS has the potential to enhance the functionality of existing aids, improve monitoring of aids, provide early marking of new dangers and meet the marking needs of specialised users.
Improved traffic analysis using AIS data will allow for more accurate assessment of the level of service required to meet the needs of the mariner.
Enhanced functionality could include confirmation of the aids position correct performance direct to the ships bridge, warnings where the aid is out of position or not functioning correctly and provision of live meteorological and hydrological information.
The presence of an AIS network offers the potential to improve
monitoring of aids to navigation with consequent improvement of the
service to the mariner.
It is not absolutely necessary for an AIS unit to be fitted to an AtoN such as a buoy for AIS technology to be used. Where a buoy is monitored by some other means an AIS message can be transmitted from an adjacent shore station so that to the mariner the message appears to come from the buoy itself. This facility is termed synthesised AIS.
Use of AIS to mark new dangers offers the potential for a significant improvement in first response time to wrecks and other new dangers. AIS virtual aids to navigation can be quickly established to mark such a danger in advance of more traditional marking. Such aids would of course only be visible to AIS equipped ships.
The full potential of AIS for improving safety at sea will not be realised for some time. From the Aids to Navigation perspective it is possible that in the future special channels for types of users who would carry AIS could be marked solely or predominately by Virtual Aids. Similarly where a particular class of user has a requirement for a special aid to navigation that aid could be activated by the AIS indicating that such a user was approaching the station.
Approval for AIS based Aids to Navigation
Any aid to navigation requires consent for its establishment from the General Lighthouse Authority.